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Musharraf cleared; now opponents mull poll boycott

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Musharraf cleared; now opponents mull poll boycott

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Pakistan’s President Musharraf has cleared the final obstacle against his remaining in office, with the last legal objection to his nomination rejected by judges. The re-constituted Supreme Court, now more amenable to him, ruled that his victory in October could stand. It paves the way for him to quit the army, and become a civilian leader, and go ahead with parliamentary elections in the New Year.

The opposition is now arguing about whether to take part. Imran Khan says no: “This election should be boycotted because it is a complete fraud. With the emergency, and with the media gagged and muzzled and with the constitution suspended, how can you have any credible election in that situation?”

Musharraf’s leading opponent, Benazhir Bhutto intends to fight the elections, but under protest at the President’s security clampdown. “If you give the best of your ability, the other side is forced to expose that it does not command the legitimacy of support, and that it is rigging the election. So we have entered our nominations under protest.”

There’s still widespread public opposition to President Musharraf, but the tempers of recent weeks have cooled. Lawyers have led the protests, but now both demonstrators and police are keen to present a more reasonable picture to the watching world.